BYU finished off year 1 of the Kalani Sitake era with a 24-21 victory over Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl. The 2016 season was one of close calls, as 8 of 13 of BYU’s games were within one possession.
We at Vanquish the Foe voted on various individual awards and honors for the 2016 season. Some were pretty obvious, while others were not quite as clear.
So, without further ado, here are your official 2016 VTF awards!
Offensive MVP: Jamaal Williams
This one was the easiest to pick. Jamaal was the best and most valuable to BYU’s team. With the passing game having its fair share of struggles for much of the year, Jamaal often put the team on his back and showed why he is one of the top backs in college football. Whether he was running over defenders, sprinting past defenders, or making key blocks in the passing game, Jamaal was the glue keeping this BYU offense going. If not for a nagging ankle injury that kept him out and slowed him down for part of the season, Jamaal may have been an All-American candidate. Despite that, he still managed to run for a career best 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games of action. BYU may never have another running back with Jamaal’s charm off the field, and relentless running style on it.
Honorable Mention: Tejan Koroma
Defensive MVP: Fred Warner
This one was the hardest to pick, and could have gone in different directions. Guys like Butch Pau’u and Kai Nacua could have easily gotten the nod. While both would be deserving, Fred Warner was the most consistent of the bunch. No one affected both the running and passing game quite like Fred did. Whether it was getting to the quarterback, stopping a runner in the backfield, or picking off a pass, Fred was all over the field in every game. Fred has stated his likely intentions to return to BYU for his senior season.
Honorable Mention: Kai Nacua, Butch Pau’u
Most Improved: Butch Pau’u
The human tackling machine, Butch Pau’u was the anchor of the BYU defense. After sitting behind Harvey Langi during the 2015 season, the staff saw enough in Pau’u to move Langi to defensive end so Butch could be the full-time Middle Linebacker. Not only did Butch have a nose for the ball, but it was rare to ever see him miss a tackle. Butch had a knack for wrapping up ball carriers and not allowing them to gain yards after contact. All of this was done with his trademark smile. BYU fans will be happy that Butch was only a sophomore this year.
Honorable Mention: Micah Hannemann
Best Newcomer: Thomas Shoaf
BYU’s offensive line seemed to be in trouble when one of the best lineman, Ului Lapuaho, went out for the season with a knee injury. Shoaf had returned in the offseason from an LDS mission, and wasn’t expected to contribute much this season. Instead, he beat out Austin Hoyt for the right tackle spot, and was a bright spot on an sometimes inconsistent offensive line. A full offseason in BYU’s program should provide a big jump for the promising freshman tackle.
Honorable Mention: Troy Warner, Dayan Lake
Play of the Year: Fred Warner’s pick 6 versus Boise State
Fred showed what makes him such a special player on this play. His instincts, athleticism, and playmaking ability were on full display during the Thursday night ESPN game.
Honorable Mention: Moroni Laulu-Putatau one-handed catch, Fake Field Goal versus Utah
Senior that will be most missed: Jamaal Williams
Not much debate here. BYU had some great seniors this year. Taysom Hill has been the backbone and leader of the team for 4 seasons now, but is obviously being replaced by Tanner Mangum. Taysom’s leadership, toughness, and ability will be missed, but is more replaceable than Jamaal. Kai Nacua and his timely interceptions will no doubt be missed either.
Honorable Mention: Taysom Hill, Kai Nacua
Player to watch in 2017: Dayan Lake
BYU has a lot of young, dynamic players returning for the 2017 season. One of the most exciting prospects for BYU fans has to be the cornerback tandem; starting corners Dayan Lake and Fred Warner are both only freshmen. Lake started out as the backup behind Michael Davis, but his play vaulted him to the starting corner opposite of Troy Warner during the middle of the season. With a full offseason of reps as a first-team corner, Dayan Lake should see even more improvement from year 1 to year 2.
Honorable Mention: Troy Warner, Jonah Trinnaman, Riley Burt, Tanner Mangum
Best Follow on Twitter: Jonny Linehan
Is there a funnier college football player than the BYU punter? Not only did Jonny have a great year punting the football, but he slayed it in the tweeting game. Here is one of his many gems from the season:
Come on coach! Say it to my face! https://t.co/pw8BCWSzCf— Jonny Linehan (@jlinehan9) December 8, 2016
BYU fans got good news last month when Linehan tweeted out that he still has a year of eligibility remaining:
BYU is my home. I love it here. I'm not ready to leave just yet... pic.twitter.com/naj8Bdk6Xz— Jonny Linehan (@jlinehan9) November 21, 2016
We at Vanquish the Foe are excited that we not only get to see the New Zealander kick the ball for another year, but get another round of fire tweets.
Honorable Mention: Tanner Mangum
Year 1 of the Kalani Sitake era in the books, but 2017 looks to be even more promising. BYU will be replacing some all-time greats, but has loads of talent returning. A challenging front-half schedule poses difficulties, but BYU seems to have the talent and coaching to potentially have a special year. Here’s to a quick offseason until August 26 gets here.